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Arizona detectives arrest two suspects in $16.1 million California recycling fraud case

Arizona and California authorities worked together to take down a criminal enterprise

December 21, 2018

PHOENIX, Arizona – On Wednesday, December 12, the Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS), along with the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, arrested three suspects accused of using an Arizona trucking company as a front to defraud California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program out of $16.1 million. This program allows Californians to recycle cans and bottles for a monetary return.

Investigators allege that the owner of Bustillos Trucking company, 49-year-old Miguel Bustillos, of Glendale, Arizona, operated his company for the sole purpose of smuggling out-of-state recyclable materials into California in order to defraud the California Redemption Value (CRV) program. Bustillos and truck driver, 57-year-old Anthony Sanchez, of Tucson, along with a third suspect from Los Angeles, are suspected of defrauding the beverage recycling program over the past three years. The CRV is a program in which a monetary value is awarded to those who return empty aluminum cans and/or plastic bottles for recycling.

AZDPS detectives, in coordination with California DOJ agents, served three search warrants in Arizona. Authorities seized a total of 27,860 lbs. of empty beverage containers from a collection yard in Phoenix. Approximately 19,300 lbs. of aluminum and 8,560 lbs. of plastic were packed and loaded onto trucks destined for California. Under the CRV program, the combined value of the recyclable containers is over $42,000.

On November 7, Miguel Bustillos and Anthony Sanchez were both arrested by detectives and extradited to California. The third suspect is a Los Angeles resident and was arrested in California. All three suspects are facing charges in California for felony recycling fraud, attempted grand theft, and conspiracy.

“Thanks to our good working relationship with California authorities, these suspects were caught operating an illegal enterprise in Arizona while defrauding Californians.” Said Lt. Colonel Danny Lugo, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigations Division.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety is a law enforcement agency whose mission is to protect human life and property by enforcing state laws, deterring criminal activity and providing vital support to the State of Arizona and its citizens.

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